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Friday, February 6, 2009

Components of the Life of Henry Ford

By Rocky Wilson
Author of Sharene:
Death: A Prerequisite For Life

Components of the Life of Henry Ford

Although remembered historically for his contribution to the automobile industry, the life of Henry Ford (1863-1947) was replete with a wide array of interests and ventures that both gained supporters and drew adamant opposition.

The man who transformed America by building and selling more than 15 million affordable Model T automobiles from 1908 to 1927, thanks to the assembly line construction process he developed, drew both raves and criticism by sponsoring a ‘Peace Ship’ to Europe during World War I and bashing Jews in a newspaper he owned, the Dearborn (Michigan) Independent.

Raised on a farm in Dearborn, Ford worked as an apprentice machinist and ran a sawmill before, at age 28, becoming an engineer for the Edison Illumination Company, in Detroit. Within two years, he was chief engineer of that company and, though not the first to build a self-propelled vehicle with a gasoline engine, soon became a pioneer in that field. His first self-made such vehicle, the Quadricycle, was completed In 1896.

In 1918, when more than one-half of the total number of cars in America were Ford Model T’s, Henry Ford campaigned for a seat in the U.S. Senate, and lost.

Although an innovative employer who shortened the work week of employees and raised wages, Ford was a staunch believer that employees shouldn’t unionize. Ford Motor Company, then 38-years-old, finally signed a contract with the United Auto Workers in 1941, near the outset of World War II.

Important events in the life of Henry Ford include:

* July 30, 1863 Born in Greenfield Township, Michigan

* 1879 Leaves family farm to work as apprentice machinist in Detroit

* 1888 Marries Clara Bryant

* 1891 Becomes engineer with Edison Illuminating Company, Detroit

* 1893 Only son, Edsel Bryant Ford is born

* 1896 Completes construction of first automobile, Quadricycle

* 1903 Ford Motor Company incorporates

* 1913 Introduces first moving automobile assembly line

* 1915 Oscar II, Ford’s “Peace Ship” sails to Norway

* 1918 Loses campaign for U.S. Senate seat

* 1932 Builds first V-8 Ford

* 1941 Ford Motor Company signs agreement with United Auto Workers

* 1947 Dies of natural causes

Ford’s impact on America was far reaching. By selling Model T’s at affordable prices ranging from $950 to $280, automobiles no longer were a rich man’s toy and people could move away from city cores. Assembly line production was the main reason automobiles became so inexpensive. Through that innovative means of construction, the speed of making a car became eight times faster, and in 1914 Ford Motor Company was producing a new car every twenty-four seconds.

Henry Ford’s other interests ranged into the fields of aviation, the use of agricultural products in industrial production (such as soybean-based plastic automobile components), schools, and museums.

Anyone studying the life of Henry Ford can get caught up in his genius or his eccentricities, yet maybe it’s his impact on today‘s society we should focus on most.

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